Apple and Google deny knowledge of UK Government working with them on Contact Tracing App

The Department of Health told the BBC they’ve been “working with Google and Apple extensively”. Apple and Google say the first they heard of it was at Matt Hancock’s briefing last week

man looking confused sitting on a sofa

As Islanders and the rest of the UK learnt on Thursday last week, the Isle of Wight Covid-19 Contact Tracing App is no more.

The same day News OnTheWight reported that 96 per cent of iPhones were not detectable by the App that was rolled out on the Island for six weeks, after it had been trialed at an RAF Base in Yorkshire.

Hancock points the finger at Apple
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, then stated at the daily briefing that “our App won’t work, because Apple won’t change their system“.

What followed were messages on social media from some people saying they would never buying an Apple product again because of this.

The Government announced that the Google/Apple solution does not currently measure distance in the way required, so NHSX would share the learning from their fields tests with them and develop a hybrid version.

Google and Apple challenge claims
The next day Google and Apple said they knew nothing about the UK’s plans to build a hybrid Contact Tracing App until they’d heard Mr Hancock’s announcement.

They went on to say it was hard to understand the claims made by the UK Government that there were problems with distance-measuring of the Google/Apple technology.

The Guardian reported,

The suggestion that the system doesn’t work well enough to use nationwide caused particular confusion. Apple told the Times: “It is difficult to understand what these claims are as they haven’t spoken to us.” The same system is already in use in Germany and Italy. “There have been loads of field tests by public health authorities that have shown it works effectively,” one person involved with the project said.

Government: “NHSX has been working with Google and Apple extensively”
It was then revealed that the Department of Health had told the BBC that NHSX had discussed its ambitions with Apple.

“NHSX has been working with Google and Apple extensively since their API was made available.

“Over the last few weeks, senior representatives from NHSX and Apple have had productive meetings to discuss both products and future direction.

“There is a commitment between the teams to work together to improve the distance measurement technology, which is integral to have a fully functioning contract-tracing App.”

Despite promises to the contrary, the UK Government has still failed to answer News OnTheWight’s eight simple questions about the App and Covid cases on the Isle of Wight. It has now been over four weeks since the questions were posed.

Image: Nik Shuliahin under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020 2:19pm



Filed under: Health, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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9 Comments on "Apple and Google deny knowledge of UK Government working with them on Contact Tracing App"

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Wot? No more barefaced lies from a Conservative Government?

Surely not!?


The upside is Dom’s pal’s company has pocketed about £11 million and HalfSausageSeely has advanced his career.


Lol we knew as soon as it was announced that it was dead in the water. And what a surprise it doesn’t work for them exact same reasons

And those uneducated people who said that they are never buying an apple product again,… what a joke

Not making excuses for anyone but I distinctly recall the Minister, Mr. Hancock replying to this question being posed on National TV. The Minister did not call out Google/Apple as piers but did state their denial was not true (sic) in what I took to be quite unequivocal clarity. This thread high highlights one of the real banes of today’s media and that is selective reporting of… Read more »
Mark L Francis

So if Apple’s denial of collaboration with the Government was “not true [sic]” then did they actually collaborate with the Government but are so ashamed that they are lying to save face. Mind you – you can see their point.

Rupert Besley
This is a developing story, with full details yet to emerge and basic facts still to be established. As ever in such situations, those with a vested interest in the outcome of the debate make strenuous efforts to get in fast with their version of events and thereby set the narrative. The media would be failing in its job if it took the opening statements of protagonists… Read more »
Rupert Besley

Mini-correction: whoops, apologies – I meant to put ‘protective ring’ above (as correct quote from Hancock). No idea why I typed ‘defensive’ instead, not that it makes any real difference.